Muscat: Emotional scenes were witnessed yesterday at Muscat International Airport when Waleed Khalid Salam Al Rashaidi and his wife — the Omani couple held for 14 days by police in the South-Indian state of Kerala for allegedly exchanging fake Indian currency — were embraced by family and friends.
"I am happy to see my children and family members again," Waleed said, while holding one of his daughters in his lap.
On Tuesday, quoting highly-placed sources in Kerala, Times of Oman had reported that the Omani couple would be freed by the weekend.
The Omani couple was arrested on January 31 for reportedly exchanging counterfeit Indian currency at a hotel in Kerala, where they were staying. When the hotel management submitted the money paid by Waleed to the bank, it was found to be fake currency. The Indian currency was purchased from an authorised money exchange in Kabourah by the Omanis before their travel.
Nearly 200 people, including his mother, brothers, sisters and friends, were anxiously waiting to see Waleed and his wife at the arrival lounge of the Muscat airport. "We felt that every minute was like an hour for us. We just wanted to see them," one of the relatives said, while holding a bouquet and distributing cookies.
"We have arranged a huge feast to celebrate their return. It is truly a moment for us to cherish," one of Waleed's sisters said.
A coordinated effort was made by the Indian and Omani governments to bring the couple back home. "The Kerala chief minister's office played a vital role in the release of the Omani couple. Even though they were convinced of the innocence of the Omani couple, as it was a cross-border fake currency case, their release was delayed. The state government had to seek the help of the central government," Siddique Hassan, a Muscat-based social worker, said.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Khalid Salam Al Rashaidi, a Majlis Al Shura member, and Ali Al Rashaidi, a municipal council member, both brothers of Waleed, were in Kerala to assist him.
"The central and state governments helped us a lot. The Kerala chief minister's office was in close touch with us. The Omani embassy also played a vital role in the release. We are thankful to everyone who helped us," Ali and Mohammed said.
When asked about exploring legal action against the money exchange for their ordeal, Ali said they would discuss the issue with the authorities and family members before deciding on the future course.
"We will discuss it. If needed, we will explore legal action," Ali said.
Meanwhile, according to sources, there is one more Omani being held in Kerala for exchanging fake Indian currency.